Venezuela Carnival is celebrated annually three days before Ash Wednesday. It is held in February and March under the liturgical calendar ruled by the lunar cycle and this year, it takes place on February 20. El Carnival is a merry-making movement and festival dating back to ancient civilizations that celebrated agrarian cycles and Shrovetide. Today, the festival is known for its parades, balls, street shows, performances, and food, especially meat.
History of Venezuela Carnival
In the past, the Carnival was centered around indulgence and sensual gratification. Yet, with time, the aim of the celebration changed, but the rhythms of music and the colorful costumes persisted. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the festival consisted of athletic competitions in which men and women danced in public while making “immoral gestures.” A century later, Diez Madroero, the Bishop of Caracas, modified the celebration into three days of rosaries, prayers, and parades. This version of the Carnival persisted until Mayor José Abalos brought it back to its original but “refined” form. He reduced the violence during the festival by ensuring those who watched the parades would be given candy, floats, and encouragement to participate instead of being allowed to riot.
The Carnival has become a Venezuelan tradition and is integrated into the regional celebrations in Venezuela. Some examples of Carnival festival customs include meat festivals in Puerto Cabello, Maturin’s King Momo celebrations, Mérida’s Bullfighting Carnival of America, Callao celebrations, and Zulia’s costume parties. The Carnival of El Callao is the largest in Venezuela; it lasts four days. In El Callao’s festival, dancing madamas are the highlight of the festivities.
Carúpano hosts Carnival yearly with parades featuring decorated floats, vintage cars, steel drums, salsa music, vibrant costumes, orchestras, and gallons of rum. A carnival queen and mini queen are chosen during the celebration. During the days of El Carnival, Mérida hosts the Sun Fair. The Queen of the Sun is selected through the competition before the days of the festivities. The Carúpano Carnival is attended by 400,000 people.
Venezuela Carnival timeline
Mayor José Abalos gives the festival its originality, true traditions, and purpose.
Carúpano, a port city on the Caribbean coast, celebrates the Lenten Carnival.
People hold the first official El Carnival parade in El Callao.
Venezuelans celebrate the Maturín Carnival and the Election of King Momo.
Venezuela Carnival FAQs
What is Venezuela’s famous Carnival called?
The famous carnival in Venezuela is called ‘El Carnival.’
What month is Venezuela's Carnival?
In Venezuela, the Carnival is celebrated in February and March before Lent.
Where is the famous Carnival of Venezuela?
El Carnival occurs in different parts of Venezuela. For example, some Carnival festivities happen in Caracas, while others take place in Carúpano.
Venezuela Carnival Activities
Attend the Carnival
Participate in the celebration by going to the Venezuelan Carnival. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience a vibrant culture.
Get a colorful costume
The Venezuelan Carnival is a riot of color. The more colors that can be added to the costumes, the better. So, make or buy your outfit and celebrate the Carnival.
Participate in the Carnival
The fanfare of the Venezuela Carnival is unparalleled. You can watch competitions and bullfights, play an instrument, or enjoy sweets. Do whatever you like during the festival.
5 Surprising Facts About Venezuela
Beauty pageants are almost a tradition
Venezuelans love to celebrate beauty and hold beauty pageants year round, even during the Carnival!
The largest rodent lives there
The capybara, or chigüire, is the world’s largest rodent in the Venezuelan savannas.
Birds love it
Every evening, vibrant macaws or 'guacamayas' fly freely through the sky and stop by balconies and terraces all over Caracas.
It’s home to peak-less mountains
The ‘tepuis,’ meaning ‘tall table mountains with high sides but no peaks,’ are a distinctive characteristic of Venezuela.
It has the tallest waterfall on Earth
Angel Falls is the world’s tallest waterfall at 3,212 feet and is found in the Guiana Highlands in the Bolivar state.
Why We Love Venezuela Carnival
It promotes a sense of cultural identity
The Venezuelan Carnival has been a part of Venezuela’s traditions for centuries. It strengthens the country’s sense of cultural identity, fosters community, and inspires younger generations to learn about their ancestry.
It brings in talent from around the world
The festival brings the talents of many well-known musicians, dancers, and singers from around the world to Venezuela. For example, thousands of guitar players flow into the country during Carnival time.
The Venezuela Carnival is a fun holiday enjoyed by millions of people. There’s something for everyone, from parades, shows, and bullfights to dances and ballroom masquerades.
Venezuela Carnival dates